1. Home
  2. Aboriginal Languages
  3. Learning from each school's experience
  4. Bowraville Central School and Nambucca Heads High School
  5. Lessons learnt in 2006
Print this page Reduce font size Increase font size

Lessons learnt in 2006

The three main topics are:

  • Using the syllabus and writing a program
  • Language teaching
  • Language learning.

Using the syllabus and writing a program

I discovered that I actually enjoy writing the teaching and learning program for Gumbaynggirr. Not many people do! The thing I like about it is getting everything in order and piecing it all together. We all come up with lesson ideas together and then I can see how it fits in with the outcomes, ‘learn abouts’ and ‘learn tos’ in the syllabus. As well as Scope and Sequence and Units of Work, we are writing a lesson plan for every lesson. In this way we know exactly what we’re doing and what we need for each lesson. The Gumbaynggirr teacher can walk into the classroom feeling prepared and confident. It is a really high-standard, good-quality program that we are preparing for the students.
— David Prosser, Gumbaynggirr teacher

We have used the Scope and Sequence and Unit of Work template, and we have filled them with our knowledge, language and culture.
— Gary Williams, Gumbaynggirr teacher

The programming we have done so far has involved great team work and use of each member’s skills.
— Clarrie Hoskins, Aboriginal Education Co-ordinator

In the Board of Studies workshops this year we have drafted a Stage 4 Scope and Sequence and written four Units of Work. It was a team effort and we have done a lot of brainstorming to get the program to this stage. We all spent some time working out the best way to order the grammar so that it developed sequentially and increased in difficulty with each Unit of Work. Once we begin teaching it, no doubt we will modify it. But it’s a well-written program, as good as any other. This kind of high standard is crucial for the recognition and status of Aboriginal languages in the school system.
— Julie Long, teacher-linguist

We continue to build on our success. Our Stage 4 Units of Work are looking good. This is our priority for now.
— Paul Le Cerf, Head teacher

From a principal’s point of view, the success of building the Gumbaynggirr program is due to the commitment of the Aboriginal staff in the school, the interest and support from other staff members and the connection between the school and the community. Managing the staffing and timetabling issues are a concern but they can always be overcome. We are planning to timetable Gumbaynggir to give it the same status as the other language in the school.
— Hilton Humphries, Principal

Language teaching

This year the Gumbaynggirr teachers have been making connections with the Languages teachers at Nambucca Heads High School and Bowraville Central School. They are teachers of French and Japanese and have given us ideas for conversational games and interactive activities that we can adapt to our Gumbaynggirr lessons. Two really good games are ‘airline aisles’ and ‘hatchy patchy’.
— David Prosser, Gumbaynggirr teacher

I’ve been learning and teaching Gumbaynggirr for several years now. When talking about language it’s essential to talk about culture at the same time, including today’s culture and the links between traditional and contemporary culture. Language and culture are intertwined and they both grow and regenerate together.
— Sharon Smith, Gumbaynggirr teacher

The Gumbaynggirr program has been running in the school for several years and we want to keep it growing and continue to make it interesting and professional. Learning your own language is one thing, but then you also need to learn effective ways to teach your language to students in the school. You need ideas that keep the students interested and engaged, to get them to use and practise language, talk to each other in language, listen and speak in language.
— Pauline Hooler, Gumbaynggirr teacher

Languages teachers – whether they are teachers of Indonesian, French, or any other language – have what I think of as a ‘bag of tricks’. There are lots of good ideas out there which get students into language, getting them to learn vocabulary and grammar in a fun and active way.
— Julie Long, teacher-linguist

Language learning

Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative runs language classes for adults all around Gumbaynggirr country. Small groups of adults get together to learn and practise language together. Muurrbay has been going since the mid 1980s. Our linguists have supported us for many years. If you want to revive your language and culture it takes a long time, it’s a hard road to hoe but you’ve got to start somewhere.
– Ken Walker, Chairperson, Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative

Muurrbay has a very warm feeling about it. People learn language together. We make it as enjoyable as possible. We’re always happy to have more people involved and interested. That way we are in a position to support the school-based programs and have a supply of Gumbaynggirr teachers that can go out to the schools.
– Pauline Hooler, Gumbaynggirr teacher

I think of myself as both a student and a teacher of the language. Although I have been learning Gumbaynggirr for many years now, you never stop learning. At the moment I’m transcribing and translating stories from archival recordings. This kind of research increases my own language knowledge and skills, so I’ve got more to pass on when I’m teaching. I also play guitar and try to incorporate music into classes as much as possible. It’s a good way for both adults and kids to learn language.
– Dallas Walker, Gumbaynggirr teacher

I found the Board of Studies workshops very interesting this year. One thing I learnt is the role of linguistics in Aboriginal languages. As a French teacher I haven’t ever worked with linguists, but Aboriginal languages are in a unique situation of language revitalisation. So linguists need to be involved, as a point of reference.
– Richard Clarke, French teacher

My role has included encouraging relations between the school and community, through the Gumbaynggirr classes. I have lived in this area and worked in the school for a number of years now, and appreciate the friendships and school-community partnerships that have developed through the school’s long-term support for the language program.
– Paul Le Cerf, Head teacher

In 2006 I came back home to the mid-north coast after being away for a while. It has been a wonderful experience for me to connect with Muurrbay and begin to re-learn language. Also as an art teacher I am aware of the similar process of drawing out the knowledge and culture that people have deep within them, and getting them to express that. The language classes are inspiring, everyone is motivated and supportive. I’m gradually able to listen, hear and comprehend, as well as express things in Gumbaynggirr.
– David Prosser, Gumbaynggirr teacher

I found the Board of Studies workshops fascinating this year. I learnt so much about Gumbaynggirr language and culture; the people at Muurrbay were generous in sharing that with me.
– Angela Tate, Japanese teacher

For several years Muurrbay has had a policy of only teaching Gumbaynggirr to Goori kids. We felt that this was important in the early days, in order to establish our own strength and knowledge in our families and community. We’re a number of years down that track now. When your language and culture are strong again, no-one can take that away from you. At the Muurrbay Annual General Meeting 2006 it was decided that Gumbaynggirr would be open to all students. The Muurrbay decision impacts on the school programs. For example the Goori kids will no longer need to be withdrawn from other classes and extra-curricular activities in order to attend Gumbaynggirr lessons. Also, we are confident that Goori and non-Goori kids learning together will increase harmony and understanding, and provide a good road to the future.
– Gary Williams, Gumbaynggirr language expert

Congratulations to the Gumbaynggirr language programming team for Bowraville Central School and Nambucca Heads High School. In 2006 they have really engaged with the NSW Aboriginal Languages K–10 Syllabus, and incorporated languages teaching methodologies and strategies into their program. In 2007 their challenge will be to continue to develop a Scope and Sequence, Units of Work and classroom materials for the Stage 4 Gumbaynggirr program.

Print this page Reduce font size Increase font size